Fundraisers. . . good for business?
However, if you really would like to use it as a way to increase your customer base, it would be a GREAT way for you to do that. . . you'd have a built in audience, plus depending on how much you dontated to the group, you could make some decent $$. Similar to Pampered Chef, Tupperware, etc., you could offer 10% and up of the sales to a group . . . it would work for scouting troops, sports clubs, civic organizations, etc. You would have a built in audience or market! You wouldn't want to donate 50% of the sales, like me . . . you would never make any money for you! However, if you dontated 10-20%, you could make a decent chunk of change.
Here are some things I've learned. . . .
* Have set dates. Don't leave it open-ended. You can always extend a fundraiser to go longer, if needed. Go for a short, reasonable amount of time, and extended as needed if sales are still strong. For me, I scheduled my Heart fund raiser at a busy time of the year for me, plus all of the items were to be shipped. Packaging and shipping take a lot of effort & time! I originally didn't have an end date, but quickly learned that I was getting busy with life - family, kids, etc. come first in my world!
* Think about setting a donation maximum amount . . . the fundraiser will end once a certain amount has been raised. This also goes along with setting an end date to the fundraiser. You could be committed to making bracelets for months if you leave it open! For my first fundraiser, I donated 50% of the sales through Mother's Day, then decreased the amount to 25% for the duration. And, orders are still trickling in!
* Designing a special item for the group is a good thing. It will help capture your audience and they will feel a connection and want to buy your product. I designed a school spirit bracelet for a high school dance squad to sell . . . it raised a few hundred dollars for the group. The Heart was designed for a girl who recently had a heart transplant. Make it relevant and/or something people would want to buy.
* Doing a fundraiser is a good way to get an Esty shop off the ground. Run all your sales & transactions through Etsy & Paypal to help get sales in your shop. If you are after a lot of feedback, include a gentle reminder for customers to leave feedback in the Etsy system. If you are going to use Etsy, remember to include the additional fees when determining a price and donation amount. . . with Etsy comes listing fees, selling fees, and PayPal fees . . . fees take a piece of the pie! Don't make the mistake of forgetting about fees, which could make you end up losing money on a fundraiser!
* If you will be making the item personally, make sure it is something that can be easily duplicated without a lot of effort. And. if needed, kids/spouse/friends can help assemble. Don't make it too complicated. Luckily, I thought of this - I had a reasonable design idea, that I could duplicate easily, and assemble quickly. My main "nag" was the packaging and shipping proccess. I've got back-up help ready for this next fundraiser. . . any help from hammering circles to packaging to distributing. . . several friends have already offered to help when needed.
* Be prepared for orders! For my first one, I wasn't. I sold over 25 pieces the first 24 hours! Luckily, though, I had plenty of notices up that customers needed to wait up to 2 weeks for delivery, in case I got swamped with orders. I did. Everyone got their products delivered in about a week. But, you need to be prepared for supplies being backordered, slow postal service, etc. You never know, so you want to communicate with the supporters. I was just lucky MonsterSlayer had all my supplies in stock and are really quick with shipments.
* Use the organization to help promote! If they are going to benefit, they WILL help promote what you are doing. It is in their best interest. Have order forms, websites, and plenty of information available for the people who will be selling or attending an event.
* Have several ways to accept payments. . . cash, check, cc, PayPal. . . all work. If someone is paying with cash, they need to pay you directly. Keep all these funds separate from personal accounts and well documented in your business account.
* Keep detailed records! Excel spreadsheets are the best way I know how to keep myself organized. Also, you need to keep track of deliveries and shipments! You don't want to forget anyone who's contributed to the fundraiser.
* Make your donations in a timely manner. Don't hold onto the money and get a false sense of a fat bank account. . . . you might end up spending it on beads!
Anyway, I just wanted to put this out here. I know sales are lagging for a lot of us home-based jewlery makers, and crafters in general. Fundraising might be the answer in this crappy economic time. Organizations need money, we need money to buy supplies or support our families - you both can win!
Finally, think about this. . . donating 20% of the total sales to a charity is better than giving 40% to a consignment shop or 50% on a wholesale order, right?